ArticlePDF Available

Meditation Increases Compassionate Response to Suffering

  • Mind & Life Institute


Content may be subject to copyright.
Psychological Science
The online version of this article can be found at:
DOI: 10.1177/0956797613485603
2013 24: 2125 originally published online 21 August 2013Psychological Science
Paul Condon, Gaëlle Desbordes, Willa B. Miller and David DeSteno
Meditation Increases Compassionate Responses to Suffering
Published by:
On behalf of:
Association for Psychological Science
can be found at:Psychological ScienceAdditional services and information for Alerts:
What is This?
- Aug 21, 2013OnlineFirst Version of Record
- Oct 11, 2013Version of Record >>
by Paul Condon on October 12, 2013pss.sagepub.comDownloaded from by Paul Condon on October 12, 2013pss.sagepub.comDownloaded from by Paul Condon on October 12, 2013pss.sagepub.comDownloaded from by Paul Condon on October 12, 2013pss.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Psychological Science
24(10) 2125 –2127
© The Author(s) 2013
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/0956797613485603
Short Report
Contemplative science has documented a plethora of
intrapersonal benefits stemming from meditation, includ-
ing increases in gray matter density (Hölzel, Carmody,
et al., 2011), positive affect (Moyer et al., 2011), and
improvement in various mental-health outcomes (Hölzel,
Lazar, et al., 2011). Strikingly, however, much less is
known about the interpersonal impact of meditation.
Although Buddhist teachings suggest that increases in
compassionate responding should be a primary outcome
of meditation (Davidson & Harrington, 2002), little scien-
tific evidence supports this conjecture. Even as scientists
have begun to examine the effects of meditation on pro-
social action, the conclusions that can be drawn with
respect to compassion have been limited by designs that
lack real-time person-to-person interactions centered on
suffering. Previous work, for example, has utilized medi-
tators’ self-reported intentions and motivations to behave
in supportive manners toward other individuals (e.g.,
Fredrickson, Cohn, Coffey, Pek, & Finkel, 2008) and com-
puter-based economic games requiring cooperation (e.g.,
Leiberg, Klimecki, & Singer, 2011; Weng et al., 2013) to
assess altruistic action. Such methods have suggested that
meditation may increase generalized prosocial respond-
ing, but have not clearly and objectively gauged responses
meant solely to mitigate the suffering of other individuals.
To address this gap, we utilized a design in which
individuals were confronted with a person in pain in an
ecologically valid setting. If, as suggested by Buddhist
theorizing, meditation enhances compassionate respond-
ing, participants who have completed a brief meditation
course should act to relieve such a person’s suffering
more frequently than those who have not completed the
The final set of participants comprised 39 individuals (29
female, 10 male; mean age = 25.23 years, SD = 4.66)
recruited from the Greater Boston community for an
8-week study on meditation. (See the Supplemental
Material available online for recruitment procedures.)
Individuals were randomly assigned either to complete
meditation classes or to be in a waiting-list control group.
Those assigned to the meditation condition were further
randomly subdivided to receive one of two protocols:
mindfulness or compassion meditation. We utilized two
separate meditation protocols both to enhance generaliz-
ability and to ensure that any resulting effects of medita-
tion on behavior could not be attributed to demand
characteristics. Although techniques to focus and calm
the mind were taught in both protocols, direct discussion
of compassion and the suffering of other people occurred
only in compassion meditation. (See the Supplemental
Material for meditation protocols.)
Meditation classes were held in a nondenominational
venue dedicated to spiritual activities (e.g., prayer, medi-
tation, yoga). A Tibetan Buddhist lama (author W. M.)
with 20-plus years of meditation experience conducted
both courses. The classes were taught in a secular format
featuring 60 min of instruction, 30 min of practice, and
30 min for discussion; classes were held once a week for
8 weeks. Participants also received 20-min audio-guided
meditations to complete independently outside of class.
Participants reported their daily use of the audio record-
ings each week. Participants received $60 for their
Following 8 weeks of meditation practice or approxi-
mately 8 weeks after initial recruitment to the waiting list,
XXX10.1177/0956797613485603Condon et al.Meditation and Compassionate Behavior
Corresponding Authors:
Paul Condon, Department of Psychology, 360 Huntington Ave.,
Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115
David DeSteno, Department of Psychology, 360 Huntington Ave.,
Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115
Meditation Increases Compassionate
Responses to Suffering
Paul Condon
, Gaëlle Desbordes
, Willa B. Miller
and David DeSteno
Department of Psychology, Northeastern University;
Athinoula A. Martinos Center for
Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School;
Department of Religion, Harvard University
Received 1/3/13; Revision accepted 3/17/13
2126 Condon et al.
participants were scheduled to come to the lab under the
guise of completing tests of cognitive ability. To obtain a
naturalistic measure of responses to suffering, we utilized
confederates to construct a test situation outside the labo-
ratory. All confederates were blind both to the hypothesis
being tested and to each participant’s experimental condi-
tion. Prior to a participants arrival, two female confeder-
ates sat in a designated waiting area possessing three
chairs. Upon arriving at the waiting area, the participant
sat in the remaining chair. After the participant had been
sitting for 1 min, a third female confederate, who played
the role of the “sufferer, appeared around the corner with
crutches and a walking boot. The sufferer, who visibly
winced while walking, stopped just as she arrived at the
chairs. She then looked at her cell phone, audibly sighed
in discomfort, and leaned back against a wall.
To assess compassionate responding, we measured
whether the true participant offered his or her seat to the
sufferer to relieve her pain. Via text message, one of the
sitting confederates surreptitiously notified the experi-
menter, who was waiting out of sight, whether and when
the participant offered the seat to the sufferer. If 2 min
passed and the participant had not given up his or her
seat, the trial was ended and coded as a nonhelping
response. The experimenter then entered the waiting
area, greeted the participant, and escorted him or her to
the lab to complete a series of measures unrelated to the
goals of the present analysis.
Results and Discussion
As predicted, meditation directly enhanced compassion-
ate responding. Meditators offered their seats to the suf-
ferer more frequently than did nonmeditators from
the waiting-list control group, !
(1, N = 39) = 5.13, p =
.02, " = .36 (see Table 1). This enhanced prosocial
responding did not differ as a function of meditation pro-
tocol; participants practicing mindfulness meditation
were as likely to aid the sufferer as were those practicing
compassion meditation (see the Supplemental Material
for analysis).
That 8 weeks of meditation resulted in
such a large effect—increasing the odds of acting to
relieve another person’s pain by more than 5 times (odds
ratio = 5.33)—is all the more striking given that the help-
ing occurred in a social context whose features should
attenuate such behavior. The simple presence of the two
confederates and their total disregard for the pain of the
sufferer constitutes a classic bystander manipulation in
which both diffusion of responsibility and norms sug-
gesting an acceptance of nonintervention are heightened
(cf. Darley & Latané, 1968).
Additional work will be needed to isolate the specific
causal mechanism for the observed effect more narrowly,
as several meditation-induced mediators (e.g., height-
ened awareness, increased perspective taking) stand as
possible candidates (cf. Hölzel, Lazar, et al., 2011).
Nonetheless, this study is the first to clearly show the
power of meditation to increase compassionate respond-
ing to suffering, even in the face of social pressures to
avoid so doing. In turn, it provides scientific credence to
ancient Buddhist teachings that meditation increases
spontaneous compassionate behavior.
Author Contributions
P. Condon, D. DeSteno, G. Desbordes, and W. B. Miller
designed the experiments. P. Condon and W. B. Miller con-
ducted the research. P. Condon and D. DeSteno conducted the
analyses and wrote the manuscript.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The authors declared that they had no conflicts of interest with
respect to their authorship or the publication of this article.
We acknowledge support from a Mind and Life Institute
Francisco J. Varela award. Any views, findings, conclusions, or
recommendations expressed in this publication do not neces-
sarily reflect those of the Mind and Life Institute.
Supplemental Material
Additional supporting information may be found at http://pss
1. Participants in the meditation condition earned an additional
$20 and entry into a $100 raffle for completing weekly logs.
2. Additional analyses revealed that gender did not affect rates
of helping behavior. Also of import, analyses of self-reported
social networks demonstrated that social-network size neither
increased as a result of participation in the meditation classes
nor significantly differed between the meditation and control
groups, suggesting that increases in social capital from par-
ticipating in a group activity could not account for the central
finding that meditation increased compassionate respond-
ing (see the Supplemental Material for these and additional
Table 1.# Observed and Expected Frequencies of Helping
Behavior Across Conditions
Meditation training Waiting-list control
Outcome Observed Expected Observed Expected
No help 10 13.3 16 12.7
Help 10 6.7 3 6.3
Meditation and Compassionate Behavior 2127
Darley, J. M., & Latané, B. (1968). Bystander intervention
in emergencies: Diffusion of responsibility. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 8, 377–383.
Davidson, R. J., & Harrington, A. (2002). Visions of compassion:
Western scientists and Tibetan Buddhists examine human
nature. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Fredrickson, B. L., Cohn, M. A., Coffey, K. A., Pek, J., & Finkel,
S. M. (2008). Open hearts build lives: Positive emotions,
induced through loving-kindness meditation, build con-
sequential personal resources. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 95, 1045–1062.
Hölzel, B. K., Carmody, J., Vangel, M., Congleton, C., Yerramsetti,
S. M., Gard, T., & Lazar, S. W. (2011). Mindfulness practice
leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density.
Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 191, 36–43.
Hölzel, B. K., Lazar, S. W., Gard, T., Schuman-Olivier, Z.,
Vago, D. R., & Ott, U. (2011). How does mindfulness
meditation work? Proposing mechanisms of action from a
conceptual and neural perspective. Perspectives on Psycho-
logical Science, 6, 537–559.
Leiberg, S., Klimecki, O., & Singer, T. (2011). Short-
term compassion training increases prosocial behav-
ior in a newly developed prosocial game. PLoS ONE, 6,
e17798. Retrieved from
Moyer, C. A., Donnelly, M. P. W., Anderson, J. C., Valek, K.
C., Huckaby, S. J., Widerholt, D. A., . . . Rice, B. L. (2011).
Frontal electroencephalographic asymmetry associated
with positive emotion is produced by very brief meditation
training. Psychological Science, 22, 1277–1279.
Weng, H. Y., Fox, A. S., Shackman, A. J., Stodola, D. E.,
Caldwell, J. Z. K., Olson, M. C., . . . Davidson, R. J.
(2013). Compassion training alters altruism and neural
responses to suffering. Psychological Science, 24, 1171–
!!!!!Meditation and Compassionate Behavior
Supplementary Online Material (word count: 977)
During recruitment, all participants self-
reported little to no experience with any type of
meditation experience and none reported completing
any previous meditation course or meditation retreat.
All participants passed a telephone-administered
version of the Mini-Mental State Examination as
indicated by a score greater than or equal to 21
(Newkirk et al., 2004).
Sixty-seven individuals were initially
recruited for the study. Twenty-six dropped out prior
to completion of the training portion. Two others
were removed by experimenters: one who did not
take a chair in the waiting area upon arrival and one
who expressed suspicion about the study. The final
sample consisted of 39 individuals (20 meditators,
and 19 waitlist controls).
Supplementary Analyses
Amount of Training
On average, meditating participants attended
6.60 (SD=0.50) instruction sessions and reported
completing independent 20-minute intervals of
meditation 3.74 (SD=1.04) times per week.
Helping Behavior by Meditation Class
Those participants who completed the
mindfulness- and compassion-based meditation did
not differ in frequency of helping behavior,
(1)=0.20, p>.65 (see Table S1).
Gender differences in helping behavior have
been reported in numerous studies, although the
direction of these differences vary depending on
context. Males help more frequently in some contexts
(e.g., short-term encounters), but females help more
in others (e.g., long-term close relationships; for a
review, see Eagly & Crowley, 1986). In the current
study, we found that participant gender did not affect
frequency of compassionate responding, f
out of 29, f
=3 out of 10, !
(1,N=39)=0.07, p>.79.
Furthermore, the composition of male and female
participants in the meditation and control groups did
not differ, !
Design Limitations: Control Group and Social
Network Analysis
The nature of our design required that one
group (i.e., meditators) came together for repeated
classes, thereby creating a context that afforded
interaction with other individuals participating in the
study. The waitlist group had no such possibility of
interacting with others due to participation in a
structured class. Thus, although the control group
was matched with respect to interest in meditation
and desire to enroll in an 8-week course, its members
did not engage in repeated interactions with
meditation class members or an instructor. One
resulting concern is that repeated interactions with
fellow participants in the course may have produced
social consequences that could account for increased
levels of helping behavior (e.g., increased social
resources). To rule out this possibility, we obtained a
measure of the number of people that participants
interacted with on a regular basis before and after
training. At pre- and post-testing (i.e., eight weeks
apart), participants received an email with a link to an
online version of the Social Network Index (Cohen,
Doyle, Skoner, Rabin, & Gwaltney, 1997). This
survey asked participants to list the initials of every
individual that they “interacted with in person or over
the phone at least once every two weeks.” The survey
prompted participants to list people in the following
categories: romantic partner, parents, partner’s
parents, children, relatives, friends, classmates, co-
workers, acquaintances, members of a spiritual
group, members of a volunteer group, and members
of unspecified groups. Participants could list up to
seven individuals for each category, with the
exception of friends and members of unspecified
group (up to ten individuals). Our primary interest
concerned the total number of people with whom
participants reported interacting. If the meditation
classes increased social capital, we would expect to
find that those in the meditation group reported an
increase in their number of relationships at post-
testing, relative to the wait-list group.
A 2 (time: pre, post) X 2 (group: meditators,
wait-list) repeated measures ANOVA, with time as
the repeated factor, revealed no main effect of group
on social capital (M
=11.58; SD
=12.35 SD
=5.07), F(1,31)=0.21, p>.65,
and no effect of time (M
=12.18; SD
=11.58 SD
=5.10), F(1,31)=0.83, p>.37.
There was no interaction, F(1,31)=1.40, p>.24 (note
that only 13 participants from the WL control group
provided responses to the SNI). In sum, participants
!!!!!Meditation and Compassionate Behavior
in the meditation group did not experience a growth
in their social network as a function of participating
in an organized class. Thus, the experience of
participating in a group activity is unlikely to account
for our central finding, at least as stemming from
increases in social capital.
It could also be argued, however, that
exposure to a caring or charismatic instructor might
have exerted an influence, principally through
modeling. That is, meditation in and of itself
covaried with exposure to an instructor in our design.
Although certainly possible, we believe that such a
factor is unlikely to account for our findings in the
present case. If it were the influence of exposure to a
caring instructor, we would expect to find a greater
effect of meditation on prosocial behavior among
participants following the compassion meditation
protocol, where actual discussion of the virtue of
relieving the suffering of others was discussed by the
instructor. In the mindfulness meditation condition,
no such discussions occurred; all instruction centered
on techniques involved in centering attention (e.g.,
breathing), and consequently provided no opportunity
for prosocial behavior to be modeled on or directly
influenced by the instructor’s explicit or implicit
goals. Nonetheless, having established the basic
phenomenon, we believe it fruitful for future
investigation to aim toward disambiguating the exact
mechanisms associated with contemplative training
that may underlie its enhancement of prosocial
behavior, as well as individual susceptibility to such
References for Supplementary Material
Cohen, S., Doyle, W.J., Skoner, D.P., Rabin, B.S., Gwaltney, J.M. (1997). Social ties and
susceptibility to the common cold. Journal of the American Medical Association, 277,
Eagly, A.H., & Crowley, M. (1986). Gender and helping behavior: A meta-analytic review of the
social psychological literature. Psychological Bulletin, 100, 283-308.
Newkirk, L.A., Kim, J.M., Thompson, J.M., Tinklenberg, J.R., Yesavage, J.A., & Taylor, J.L.
(2004). Validation of a 26-point telephone version of the Mini-Mental State Examination.
Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology, 17, 81-87.
We thank Kevin Bickart for assistance with the social network analysis.
!!!!!Meditation and Compassionate Behavior
Supplementary Table 1.
Observed and expected frequencies of helping behavior by meditation group.
Note. !
(1)=0.20, p>.65! !
!!!!!Meditation and Compassionate Behavior
Supplementary Table 2A.
Mindfulness-based training protocol.
Training components
Open awareness meditation
Introduction of basic techniques (e.g., body-scan) for relaxing the body and monitoring the mind’s natural tendency to
wander from the object of attention (i.e., the body).
Mindfulness of a physical object
Introduction and elaboration of practices for learning to calm the conceptually discursive mind for the purpose of attenuating
involuntary thoughts. Stability of attention (i.e., on a physical object) is practiced with the goal of sustaining attention in a
purposeful, non-judgmental manner for an extended period.
Mindfulness of the breathing with relaxation (I)
Continuing practice of techniques designed to instill a deepening sense of physical and mental relaxation, stillness, and
vigilance. When successful, involuntary thoughts subside and vividness of attention gradually increases. This gives rise to an
overall sense of greater presence, calm, and equilibrium.
Mindfulness of the breathing with relaxation (II)
Continuing practice from Week 3. Additional instruction focused on common impediments to meditation practice, including
sleepiness, agitation, and boredom.
Settling the mind in its natural state (i. e., mindfulness of mental events) (I)
Introduction of practices for further refining the meditator’s metacognitive abilities, with the goal of attenuating the
immediate and habitual absorption in one’s thoughts that characterize most mental functioning. When successful, insight
into the nature of the mind and its activities is achieved.
Settling the mind in its natural state (II)
Continued practice with the goal of developing increased relaxation, stillness of awareness in the midst of mental activities,
and vividness, together with heightened metacognitive abilities to observe mental states and processes without identifying
with them.
Awareness of awareness (I)
In this final technique, relaxation, stillness, and vividness of attention continue to be enhanced, leading to a perception of the
process of becoming aware, as opposed to only perceiving the contents of awareness.
Mindfulness of awareness and thoughts
Participants use the techniques they’ve learned from all previous weeks and apply them to concentration on the quality of
immediate mental experience. Instead of using breath or body as an object, now mind itself becomes the meditation object.
Particular attention will be paid to working with the arising and disappearing of thoughts.
!!!!!Meditation and Compassionate Behavior
Supplementary Table 2B.
Compassion-based training protocol.
Training components
Developing attention and stability of mind
Introduction of basic meditation techniques for focusing attention for increasingly longer periods of time. These techniques
are included in the practice of all subsequent compassion meditation components.
Baring witness to ones current life-stressors and difficulties
Introduction of practice for noticing and reflecting on current life challenges, such as a difficult situation, event, or person.
Participants learn to accept themselves in these moments and relax resistance to discomfort to remain and experience these
states without judgment or a need to remedy it. When successful, this practice leads to the dissolution of discomfort.
Commune with other’s life-stressors and difficulties
Introduction of techniques to develop awareness of the commonality of one’s own suffering. Participants learn to recognize
that all others feel discomfort just as they do. Participants imagine themselves in a community of others experiencing the
same discomfort.
Extending compassion outward
Building on previous practice of bearing witness and communing with suffering, participants visualize breathing own and
others suffering into the heart (inhalation) and dissolving all difficulties outward into a spacious sky (exhalation).
Release of suffering
Introduction of practice for letting go of one’s own and others’ suffering into a state of open awareness.
Exchange with others – close target
The culmination of previous instruction are specifically applied to a close other (i.e,. a person that one cares about).
Participants visualize the disappearance of another’s suffering as they breath it inward and send compassion outward.
Exchange with others – neutral, unknown target and a difficult, annoying target
Extending practice of exchange with others to neutral and difficult targets.
Exchange with others – all sentient beings
Extending practice of exchange with others to all sentient beings.
... A summary of the most employed terms is reported in Table 1. Crucially, MM seems to positively affect compassion (Condon et al., 2013;Lim et al., 2015), and also CM-based interventions have been found to enhance mindfulness (Jazaieri et al., 2014;Brito-Pons et al., 2018). ...
... In mindfulness research, prosocial behavior has often been operationalized as helping behavior (Leiberg et al., 2011;Condon et al., 2013;Lim et al., 2015), altruistic redistribution of funds (Weng et al., 2013(Weng et al., , 2015, financial allocation (Hafenbrack et al., 2020), reparative behavior (Hafenbrack et al., 2021), or monetary donation (Ashar et al., 2016;Chen and Jordan, 2020;Iwamoto et al., 2020;Schindler and Pfattheicher, 2021). ...
... It is worth noting that not all studies investigating the effect of mindfulness on prosocial behavior adopted rewardbased tasks. Condon et al. (2013) exposed participants enrolled in an 8-week MM training to a real-life situation in which a person with crutches was suffering. They found that meditators offered their seat more often than non-meditators. ...
Full-text available
This perspective article provides an overview of the impact of mindfulness meditation (MM) on social and moral behavior. In mindfulness research, prosocial behavior has been operationalized as helping behavior, altruistic redistribution of funds, reparative behavior, or monetary donation. Studies concerning moral behavior are still scarce. Despite inconsistent evidence, several studies found a beneficial effect of mindfulness on prosocial outcomes (i.e., a higher propensity to spend or give away money for the sake of other individuals). However, since the employed tasks were reward-based, participants' decisions also directly affected their own payoff by reducing it. Crucially, MM also affects self-control circuitry and reduces reward-seeking behaviors and reward salience by making rewards less tempting. We have discussed evidence suggesting how challenging it may be to dissociate the specific weight of enhanced other-oriented motivation from one of the decreased monetary reward salience in explaining meditators' behavior. Future higher-quality studies are needed to address this open issue.
... • Использование медитативных практик связано с улучшением просоциального поведения [90,91]. ...
Methodological guidelines "Psychoemotional risk factors in outpatient practice" were developed as a practical document for primary care physicians in order to expand and improve knowledge, as well as provide care to the adult population within the studied theme. The methodological guidelines include an information and content part for medical specialists and a practical part for patients, presented in the format of memos. The guidelines include the main sections: definition, structure and epidemiology of psychoemotional risk factors, psychoemotional risk factors in the clinics of internal diseases, screening of psychoemotional risk factors, prevention and correction of psychoemotional risk factors for noncommunicable diseases, non-drug care for patients, pharmacotherapy of psychoemotional disorders. The guidelines are intended for primary care physicians, for specialists who develop and implement educational programs for patients, as well as for therapeutic residents.
... Underlying any religious affiliation is the idea of doing good, being virtuous, and engendering greater generosity toward others (Sablosky, 2014). Compassion, as a pivotal determining factor, positively predicts these values and overt behavioral manifestations thereof (Condon et al., 2013;Saslow et al., 2013). That is, subscribers of religious beliefs strive to experience greater compassion toward others in their social surroundings, and, accordingly, want to be more generous and others-oriented. ...
Full-text available
We examine the anthropomorphism of brands as either a servant or a partner in religious advertising. Across five studies, we demonstrate that the impact of such anthropomorphism depends on consumers' political ideology. When exposed to religious advertisements (vs. nonreligious advertisements; Studies 1B and 1C), politically conservative consumers are more favorable toward brand‐as‐a‐servant anthropomorphism (Study 1), which arises from greater state‐based compassion (Study 2). However, this conditional preference for servant anthropomorphism only occurs for less religious consumers (Study 3). This study informs marketers regarding optimizing the effectiveness of using anthropomorphic brand images in religious advertising predicated on political ideology‐based segmentation strategies. The key takeaway is that portraying a brand as a servant is more appealing for conservative consumers who are less religious.
... A central claim of Buddhist contemplative traditions is that training in meditation can bring about lasting changes in the nature and habits of the mind (e.g., Dalai Lama & Cutler, 2009;Wallace 2006). Consistent with these claims, different forms and regimens of meditation training have been shown to influence capacities as diverse as attentional stability (e.g., Lutz et al., 2009;van Leeuwen et al., 2012;Zanesco et al., 2013Zanesco et al., , 2019, stress buffering (e.g., Creswell & Lindsay, 2014), emotion regulation and reactivity (e.g., Lutz et al., 2008;Rosenberg et al., 2015), and prosociality (e.g., Ashar et al., 2016;Condon et al., 2013;Weng et al., 2017). Critically, these changes may extend well beyond the bounds of formal meditation sessions, influencing broad domains of daily life (e.g., Donald et al., 2019;Sahdra et al., 2011;Skwara et al., 2017). ...
Full-text available
Objectives A core assumption of meditation training is that cognitive capacities developed during formal practice will transfer to other contexts or activities as expertise develops over time. This implies that meditation training might influence domain-general neurocognitive systems, the spontaneous activity of which should be reflected in the dynamics of the resting brain. Previous research has demonstrated that 3 months of meditation training led to reductions in EEG beta band power during mindfulness of breathing practice. The current study extends these findings to ask whether concomitant shifts in power are observed during 2 min of eyes closed rest, when participants are not explicitly engaged in formal meditation. Methods Experienced meditation practitioners were randomly assigned to practice 3 months of focused attention meditation in a residential retreat, or to serve as waitlist controls. The waitlist controls later completed their own 3-month retreat. Permutation-based cluster analysis of 88-channel resting EEG data was used to test for spectral changes in spontaneous brain activity over the course of the retreats. Results Longitudinal reductions in EEG power in the beta frequency range were identified and replicated across the two independent training periods. Less robust reductions were also observed in the high alpha frequency range, and in individual peak alpha frequency. These changes closely mirror those previously observed during formal mindfulness of breathing meditation practice. Conclusions These findings suggest that the neurocognitive effects of meditation training can extend beyond the bounds of formal practice, influencing the spontaneous activity of the resting brain. Rather than serving as an invariant baseline, resting states might carry meaningful training-related effects, blurring the line between state and trait change.
... Primjerice, meditacija suosjećanja, iz kategorije fokusirane paţnje, tijekom prakticiranja dovodi do veće aktivacije gamma ritma i aktivacije limbičkih krugova uključujući insulu i amigdale(Lutz i sur, 2008). Nakon prakticiranja dovodi do više suosjećajnog ponašanja(Condon, Desbordes, Desteno i Miller, 2013). Mindfulness meditacija, iz kategorije otvorenog promatranja, tijekom prakticiranja dovodi do povećanja EEG bilateralne frontalne theta 2 (6-8 Hz) vrijednosti i aktivacije anteriornog cingularnog korteksa (Chiesa i Serretti, 2010; prema Travis, 2013).1.6.EEG i transcendentalna meditacijaIstraţivanja pokazuju da nakon nekoliko mjeseci prakticiranja TM-a obrasci u mozgu dostiţu visoke razine tijekom tehnike. ...
Full-text available
The potential significance of mindfulness for social relations at work has been recognized in the recent management literature, yet a thorough investigation has been lacking into how mindfulness may help leaders tap into their other-orientation. In this study, we examine whether and how mindfulness training contributes to the development of leaders’ social awareness by studying the experiences of 62 leaders who participated in an 8-week-long mindfulness training program. Our study contributes to the literature on management learning and mindfulness in leadership in three ways. First, it identifies how the leaders who participated in mindfulness training see themselves developing toward becoming more socially aware in situations involving followers across the three interlinked domains of human functioning—the cognitive, affective, and behavioral—clarifying mindfulness as an interpersonal phenomenon. Second, it highlights mindfulness as a value-based developmental practice instead of merely a personal stress reduction and attention-enhancement technique. Third, it proposes mindfulness training as a viable approach to enhance leaders’ social awareness through a combination of a formal program and continuous self-development, departing from the views of mindfulness as a “quick fix.” It also provides a conceptual framework that illustrates the pathway with the potential to build social leadership capacity.
One fateful morning in June 2010, I awoke extremely dizzy and quite disoriented. I was determined to go to work and teach my last class of summer school, but I got a bit of a late start—skipping my usual coffee, instead heading directly to the bathroom to take a quick shower before driving to campus. How little I suspected what was in store! While in the shower, I was puzzled why my shampoo bottle was so hard to squeeze. “They must be making this out of some new kind of plastic,” my confused brain mused, but some part of me undoubtedly knew something was amiss, as I stepped out of the shower very quickly. A moment later, I fell, completely paralyzed on my right side. Awareness dawned—could I be having a stroke? As I lay for hours on the cold bathroom floor, that question became a certainty. I watched my plans for my busy day evaporate. There was nowhere to go, nothing to do but wait for my son to awaken so I could get help. In the meantime, I was free to ponder the richness of the myriad phases of my life. I was free to appreciate the sublime light playing off the bathroom tiles. I was free.
Buddhist practices when transferred into organizational contexts tend to bear little resemblance to their original forms of practice, leading to misinterpretations of their characteristics of ‘universal’ adaptability. For example, the popular ‘mindfulness revolution’ in the business world has been criticized for reducing mindfulness practices to psychological traits and non-judgmental awareness. Such secular approaches do not represent the Buddhist ethics-based notion of ‘right mindfulness,’ which originates from the Noble Eightfold Path. This chapter takes a critical view of Buddhist-enacted practices in the workplace (e.g., right mindfulness, the Middle Way, skillful means, non-self) to highlight the need for these practices to be interpreted and managed more context-sensitively in organizational contexts. The chapter suggests ways to move forward and present implications for coping mechanisms in contemporary organizations in response to impermanence and crises.
Full-text available
Compassion is a key motivator of altruistic behavior, but little is known about individuals' capacity to cultivate compassion through training. We examined whether compassion may be systematically trained by testing whether (a) short-term compassion training increases altruistic behavior and (b) individual differences in altruism are associated with training-induced changes in neural responses to suffering. In healthy adults, we found that compassion training increased altruistic redistribution of funds to a victim encountered outside of the training context. Furthermore, increased altruistic behavior after compassion training was associated with altered activation in brain regions implicated in social cognition and emotion regulation, including the inferior parietal cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), and in DLPFC connectivity with the nucleus accumbens. These results suggest that compassion can be cultivated with training and that greater altruistic behavior may emerge from increased engagement of neural systems implicated in understanding the suffering of other people, executive and emotional control, and reward processing.
Full-text available
Cultivation of mindfulness, the nonjudgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment, produces beneficial effects on well-being and ameliorates psychiatric and stress-related symptoms. Mindfulness meditation has therefore increasingly been incorporated into psychotherapeutic interventions. Although the number of publications in the field has sharply increased over the last two decades, there is a paucity of theoretical reviews that integrate the existing literature into a comprehensive theoretical framework. In this article, we explore several components through which mindfulness meditation exerts its effects: (a) attention regulation, (b) body awareness, (c) emotion regulation (including reappraisal and exposure, extinction, and reconsolidation), and (d) change in perspective on the self. Recent empirical research, including practitioners' self-reports and experimental data, provides evidence supporting these mechanisms. Functional and structural neuroimaging studies have begun to explore the neuroscientific processes underlying these components. Evidence suggests that mindfulness practice is associated with neuroplastic changes in the anterior cingulate cortex, insula, temporo-parietal junction, fronto-limbic network, and default mode network structures. The authors suggest that the mechanisms described here work synergistically, establishing a process of enhanced self-regulation. Differentiating between these components seems useful to guide future basic research and to specifically target areas of development in the treatment of psychological disorders. © Association for Psychological Science 2011.
Full-text available
Compassion has been suggested to be a strong motivator for prosocial behavior. While research has demonstrated that compassion training has positive effects on mood and health, we do not know whether it also leads to increases in prosocial behavior. We addressed this question in two experiments. In Experiment 1, we introduce a new prosocial game, the Zurich Prosocial Game (ZPG), which allows for repeated, ecologically valid assessment of prosocial behavior and is sensitive to the influence of reciprocity, helping cost, and distress cues on helping behavior. Experiment 2 shows that helping behavior in the ZPG increased in participants who had received short-term compassion training, but not in participants who had received short-term memory training. Interindividual differences in practice duration were specifically related to changes in the amount of helping under no-reciprocity conditions. Our results provide first evidence for the positive impact of short-term compassion training on prosocial behavior towards strangers in a training-unrelated task.
Full-text available
Therapeutic interventions that incorporate training in mindfulness meditation have become increasingly popular, but to date little is known about neural mechanisms associated with these interventions. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), one of the most widely used mindfulness training programs, has been reported to produce positive effects on psychological well-being and to ameliorate symptoms of a number of disorders. Here, we report a controlled longitudinal study to investigate pre-post changes in brain gray matter concentration attributable to participation in an MBSR program. Anatomical magnetic resonance (MR) images from 16 healthy, meditation-naïve participants were obtained before and after they underwent the 8-week program. Changes in gray matter concentration were investigated using voxel-based morphometry, and compared with a waiting list control group of 17 individuals. Analyses in a priori regions of interest confirmed increases in gray matter concentration within the left hippocampus. Whole brain analyses identified increases in the posterior cingulate cortex, the temporo-parietal junction, and the cerebellum in the MBSR group compared with the controls. The results suggest that participation in MBSR is associated with changes in gray matter concentration in brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.
Full-text available
B. L. Fredrickson's (1998, 2001) broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions asserts that people's daily experiences of positive emotions compound over time to build a variety of consequential personal resources. The authors tested this build hypothesis in a field experiment with working adults (n = 139), half of whom were randomly-assigned to begin a practice of loving-kindness meditation. Results showed that this meditation practice produced increases over time in daily experiences of positive emotions, which, in turn, produced increases in a wide range of personal resources (e.g., increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, decreased illness symptoms). In turn, these increments in personal resources predicted increased life satisfaction and reduced depressive symptoms. Discussion centers on how positive emotions are the mechanism of change for the type of mind-training practice studied here and how loving-kindness meditation is an intervention strategy that produces positive emotions in a way that outpaces the hedonic treadmill effect.
This book examines how Western behavioral science - which has generally focused on negative aspects of human nature - holds up to cross-cultural scrutiny, in particular the Tibetan Buddhist celebration of the human potential for altruism, empathy, and compassion. Resulting from a meeting between the Dalai Lama, leading Western scholars, and a group of Tibetan monks, this volume includes excerpts from these dialogues as well as engaging chapters exploring points of difference and overlap between the two perspectives.
According to our social-role theory of gender and helping, the male gender role fosters helping that is heroic and chivalrous, whereas the female gender role fosters helping that is nurturant and caring. In social psychological studies, helping behavior has been examined in the context of short-term encounters with strangers. This focus has tended to exclude from the research literature those helping behaviors prescribed by the female gender role, because they are displayed primarily in long-term, close relationships. In contrast, the helping behaviors prescribed by the male gender role have been generously represented in research findings because they are displayed in relationships with strangers as well as in close relationships. Results from our meta-analytic review of sex differences in helping behavior indicate that in general men helped more than women and women received more help than men. Nevertheless, sex differences in helping were extremely inconsistent across studies and were successfully predicted by various attributes of the studies and the helping behaviors. These predictors were interpreted in terms of several aspects of our social-role theory of gender and helping.
Objective: To examine the hypothesis that diverse ties to friends, family, work, and community are associated with increased host resistance to infection. Design: After reporting the extent of participation in 12 types of social ties (eg, spouse, parent, friend, workmate, member of social group), subjects were given nasal drops containing 1 of 2 rhinoviruses and monitored for the development of a common cold. Setting: Quarantine. Participants: A total of 276 healthy volunteers, aged 18 to 55 years, neither seropositive for human immunodeficiency virus nor pregnant. Outcome measures: Colds (illness in the presence of a verified infection), mucus production, mucociliary clearance function, and amount of viral replication. Results: In response to both viruses, those with more types of social ties were less susceptible to common colds, produced less mucus, were more effective in ciliary clearance of their nasal passages, and shed less virus. These relationships were unaltered by statistical controls for prechallenge virus-specific antibody, virus type, age, sex, season, body mass index, education, and race. Susceptibility to colds decreased in a dose-response manner with increased diversity of the social network. There was an adjusted relative risk of 4.2 comparing persons with fewest (1 to 3) to those with most (6 or more) types of social ties. Although smoking, poor sleep quality, alcohol abstinence, low dietary intake of vitamin C, elevated catecholamine levels, and being introverted were all associated with greater susceptibility to colds, they could only partially account for the relation between social network diversity and incidence of colds. Conclusions: More diverse social networks were associated with greater resistance to upper respiratory illness.